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A survey of 160 CEOs across the globe has shown that 24% of business leaders cite talent acquisition as the main issue holding their organisation back, according to research by HubSpot and Boom.

For CEOs, when it comes to growing a business, after hiring, the top two business challenges included sales (18.7%) and marketing (17.3%). Execution and finances are not far behind at 12.7% and 7.3%.

When it comes to company size, the leading challenges are not consistent. In the category of the smallest companies (companies with 10 or less employees), CEOs reported that sales (24.2%) and marketing (22.5%) were their biggest challenges. For companies of this size also, execution was the third leading challenge (19.4%).

For companies with between 11 and 20 employees, finances (13.5%) presented a challenge, as did marketing (16.2%), even more so than sales (13.5%). Hiring is, however, the biggest challenge for mid-sized companies (18.9%), and it becomes an even bigger problem as companies grow.

Nearly two fifths (39.2%) of CEOs from companies with 21 or more employees called this out as the top challenge — CEOs listed hiring as often as the following four categories combined.

Charlie Mack, CEO Cranstoun, United Kingdom said: “said: “Global uncertainty makes it very difficult to scale up any business. However, growth becomes easier with the right focus on people and who you employ. One solution for us at Cranstoun is recruiting trainees, newly trained staff and interns. We then focus on their development,  ensuring they have the right tools. We also employ part-time consultants which gives us increased agility. In all cases the most important thing is to ensure all of our team develop to match our values, vision and mission.

“If there’s anything the last few years have taught us is that, yes, skills are important, but people with your goals and mission can not only grow within the organisation, but grow the organisation. CEOs also need to consider not being so focused on looking inwards for survival — finding the support and networks of CEOs who have a progressive mindset is essential. We have so much to learn from others.”

As the digital transformation era and pressure to evolve continues, it’s surprising to see CEOs cite technology (1.3%), innovation (0.7%) and transformation processes (0.7%) as the lowest challenges, suggesting that this is an area CEOs have confidence and control over.

However, what’s more surprising is that only 2% feel that culture is a challenge, even though many state hiring as a substantial challenge.

Supriya Panje, EMEA Sales Recruiting Leader, HubSpot explains: “Culture is what will keep and attract talent. The pandemic evoked a sense of purpose amongst people wanting to do meaningful work. It means companies now must reconsider their employer brand, culture, and employee value proposition to help attract and retain talent. Hiring for potential is key. Companies must avoid looking for a culture fit, and instead look for talent who can add to your culture and elevate it.”

Julie Lock, Marketing Lead, HubSpot said: “Labour shortages and attracting top talent are arguably two of the biggest challenges that UK companies face today. It’s an employee’s market, and prospective hires are seeking out organisations that align with their values and goals. That’s why I’m surprised that only 2% of respondents focused on culture as a challenge in this survey. If CEOs want to thrive in today’s market, they should look at fostering a corporate culture that inspires and connects with employees. Hubspot has first-hand experience of what a culture manifesto can do to help attract top talent across disciplines and backgrounds to help us achieve our goals. If you’re a CEO questioning how to overcome hiring challenges, I’d suggest working on building a culture that embodies your values, attracts top talent and fosters sustainable, long-term success.”

Dave Hertig, Founder & CEO, Boom:. “There’s a disconnect between what most CEOs feel is their biggest challenge and what we believe is the real problem. In business, we need to scale trust and connection and there’s only one way to do that: define vision, mission and values. Only then can organisations connect with the humans – employees, customers, investors, vendors – that will really propel growth.”

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